Best Gaming Headsets 2020 | Reviews by Wirecutter

HyperX Cloud Alpha

Over the past few years, we’ve tested over 100 gaming headsets from a wide variety of companies. We’ve focused on over-ear headsets that cover the entire ear and passively block out background sounds by creating a seal around the ear, though we’ve also tested a couple of open-back headsets that have the same over-ear design but don’t block out background sounds. On-ear headphones rest on the ear, but the style isn’t common among gaming headsets because the sound leaks out too much as a result. And a handful of in-ear gaming headsets exist, but we found them terrible sounding and uncomfortable.

Wired headsets

The HyperX Cloud Alpha S is similar to the Cloud Alpha but has (unnecessary) extras like bass sliders and USB surround sound. In our tests, the Cloud Alpha S produced worse sound—vocals and treble sounded harsh and unpleasant—and weaker bass. On top of that, the Cloud Alpha S is PC compatible only. The included 3.5 mm cable is short, and the volume and mute functions are on the USB DSP, so you can use them only when the headset is plugged in via USB.

The HyperX Cloud II comes close to the Cloud Alpha in performance and build quality. Although the Cloud II’s USB DAC adds surround sound, the control box is cumbersome. The HyperX Cloud Core is less expensive than the Cloud Alpha but doesn’t sound as good. None of our panel found the HyperX Cloud Revolver comfortable.

We discovered during testing that the HyperX Cloud Orbit and Audeze Mobius are nearly identical—they have the same drivers and sound profile, and very similar tuning. (The Mobius has Bluetooth and head tracking and the Orbit S has head tracking but no Bluetooth, while the Orbit has neither.) The Cloud Orbit was comfortable, and it sounded better than any other headset we tested thanks to its planar magnetic drivers. But it cost $300 at the time of our review, its battery lasts only 10 hours at 50 percent volume, and you have to charge it to use it even over a 3.5 mm connection.

The Sennheiser Game One was our previous favorite open-back headset, but our recent panel testers found the clamping force uncomfortable; it also leaked more sound than the Audio-Technica ATH-PDG1, and its microphone had worse noise isolation. Our panel found the Sennheiser GSP 300’s clamping force uncomfortable and didn’t like the split headband design.

Our previous testers liked the Sennheiser GSP 550, but the surround sound doesn’t justify the high price. The GSP 500 is bulkier but sounds similar to the Game One. The Sennheiser Game Zero’s bass was disappointing; we missed the Game One’s spacious, immersive quality. The Sennheiser GSP 350 was quite noisy, and its Dolby Headphone processing is among the worst we’ve heard. Although the Sennheiser GSP 600 sounded amazing, but it didn’t fit well on large heads.

The Astro A40 TR sounded good in our tests, but it’s typically more expensive than our picks. It’s also heavy at 13.1 ounces with the mic attached, and the headband design concentrated that weight in a small band digging into the top of my head.

The Fnatic React was uncomfortable; our panel testers all noted clamping in front of their ears and weren’t able to get a seal behind their ears. It added a lispy quality to vocals, and we expect to see a removable cable on a headset this expensive.

We couldn’t get as good of a seal on the Audio-Technica ATH-PG1 compared with our top picks, so the headset leaked more sound, was less accurate, and had a smaller soundstage.

The Asus ROG Delta Core was loose and uncomfortable, and its cable isn’t detachable. The Cooler Master MH650 was also loose, and the headband dug into the top of my head; its bass reached up into lower vocals, and mids and highs sounded harsh and unpleasant. Corsair’s Void Pro was comically loose on smaller heads.

The Asus ROG Strix Fusion 300 was one of the worst-sounding headsets we tested. Vocals sounded tin-canny, and bass sounded messy, reaching into lower vocals.

Weighing 1 pound 2 ounces with the microphone, the Asus ROG Theta Electret was the heaviest headset we tested. It felt extremely heavy and uncomfortable, and it lacks basic features such as audio controls and a detachable cable.

The Audio-Technica ATH-G1 failed to handle sonically dense material well; two of our panelists described it as sounding “fuzzy” when lots of different sounds were happening at once. The earpads are creaky, and it lacks a removable cable.

The Logitech G Pro (981-000811) and Logitech G Pro X Gaming Headset with Blue Voice both clamped uncomfortably at the cheekbones, and their stiff headbands lacked padding.

Our testers found the Logitech G Pro (981-000719) comfortable, but it felt cheap due to its lighter plastic materials. It wasn’t as comfortable as the Cloud Alpha, and it had worse sound. None of our testers liked the Logitech G433’s fabric shell. The Logitech G533 has shallow earcups, and the weight distribution makes the set feel like it’ll fall off your head. The G633 Artemis Spectrum felt cheap, and we worried about its durability.

The Razer Kraken V2 (2017) was too bass-heavy in our tests, and the headset is bulky. The Kraken V2 TE typically costs more, has a dongle that adds surround sound our testers didn’t like, and still sounds too bass-heavy. The Razer Thresher feels cheap for the price.

The Audio-Technica ATH-ADG1X and ATH-AG1X are expensive and tuned to appeal to audiophiles, with lots of emphasis on high frequencies, which doesn’t play well in games.

The Turtle Beach Elite Atlas Pro wasn’t as comfortable as the Cloud Alpha, and we found that the steel band on top had a tendency to vibrate unpleasantly.

The Razer Nari Ultimate features haptic feedback, essentially a rumble pack for your skull. The headset shakes based on bass response, which feels more distracting than helpful. In Overwatch, footsteps frequently triggered the haptics. In a rhythm game like Thumper, where it should have excelled, it just gave us a nasty headache, especially when we were wearing glasses.

The Rocatt Khan Pro, Khan AIMO, and Cross all felt cheap. The few reviews on Amazon for each model suggest reliability problems.

In our tests, the HP Omen Mindframe produced muddy, chaotic sound that made it difficult for us to distinguish between ranges, especially vocals. The Mindframe includes “active cooling technology” for the earcups, which works but also makes the headset bulky and heavy. It’s particularly uncomfortable if you wear earrings, which act as a conductor.

Budget headsets

Our previous budget pick, the Corsair HS50, has since been replaced by the HS50 Pro. We had issues with sound cutting out on the Corsair HS60, and that pair was not comfortable for long periods.

The Razer Kraken X clamped tightly on our testers’ heads, and its microphone picked up a lot of breath.

The Logitech G332 clamped uncomfortably behind our testers’ ears while the headband dug into the top of each wearer’s head. The stiffer earpad material was particularly uncomfortable for testers with glasses.

The Anker Soundcore Strike 1 and Anker Soundcore Strike 3 were too tall for two of our testers. The headsets stayed in place with sheer, uncomfortable clamping force.

The Razer Kraken 2019 was large and uncomfortably heavy, and it produced overwhelming and messy bass.

While the PuroGamer Volume Limited Gaming Headset clamped excessively at the top of our panel testers’ ears, it didn’t cover their ears at the bottom.

The Corsair HS35 Stereo had itchy, creaky earpads, and the headband dug into the top of my head.

The Turtle Beach Recon Spark and Recon 70 were both almost too small for my 21.5-inch head, and they had small earpads that smushed my ears.

The Astro A10 is uncomfortable and heavy, and all of the headset’s weight sits on a single point on the top of the skull.

In our tests, the Plantronics Rig 600’s mic was tinny and hollow. Our testers found the Rig Flex and Rig 500E uncomfortable.

The Turtle Beach Atlas One sounded good for a $50 headset, but it had worse build quality than the Corsair HS50 Pro.

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 and Arctis 1 Wireless were loose enough for me to shake off; they also had shallow, itchy, creaky earcups that sounded flat and lacked bass.

The PDP LVL50 and LVL50 Wireless felt cheap, and the sliding headband was difficult to keep in place.

Testers with larger heads found the Razer Electra V2 uncomfortable.

Wireless headsets

We like the Cooler Master MH670’s compatibility, and it works as a wired headset via a 3.5 mm plug if the battery dies. But our testers found that the flexible headband concentrated the headset’s weight uncomfortably at a single point, and our largest-headed tester couldn’t get the headset to sit symmetrically.

The Sennheiser GSP 370 sounded great, and the company claims 100 hours of battery life (which we weren’t able to test), but two of our testers found the clamping force and split headband to be uncomfortable.

The HyperX Cloud Stinger Wireless is similar to the Cloud Flight but has about half the battery life.

The Corsair HS70 Pro Wireless adds wireless to our budget pick, but it was too tall and loose for two of our panelists.

The Asus ROG Strix Go 2.4, the only USB-C headset we’ve tested so far, lacked bass and clarity in highs and made vocals sound sibilant and harsh.

The heavy Asus ROG Strix Fusion Wireless dug into the top of our panelists’ heads and had too much clamping force. It produced too much bass and made vocals sound hollow, and the earcup gesture controls were unreliable.

The Turtle Beach Stealth 600 headset had itchy, creaky-sounding earpads and wasn’t comfortable for glasses wearers.

The SteelSeries Arctis 7 (2019 edition) and the more expensive wired Arctis Pro sounded as good as the Cloud Flight, but as with the Arctis 3 (2019 edition) and its wireless counterpart, our testers found the suspension headband uncomfortable.

The HyperX Cloud Mix is basically the same as the Cloud II, with the addition of Bluetooth. Unless you’re looking for a multipurpose headset, we don’t think it’s worth the extra money.

The LucidSound LS31 sounds good, but as with the wired LS25, the earcup controls felt cheap, and the headset was uncomfortable to use.

The Razer Nari lacks the Nari Ultimate’s ridiculous haptics but sounds muddy.

What about ModMics?

Antlion Audio’s ModMics are separate microphones you can attach to a pair of headphones you already own. The ModMic USB was the best of the options we tested, but with that model you’re running two wires from your headphones to your PC. It usually costs $70 to $80; for that price, you could almost buy our top pick.

The ModMic Uni costs around $50 but offers poor quality; our budget-pick headset is usually the same price and has a better microphone. The ModMic Wireless costs around $120, provides only around 12 hours of battery life, and in our tests failed to cancel background noise as well as our picks did.

Source: Wirecutter: Reviews for the Real World, Author: Kimber Streams

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